Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas view


Views : top from the house, over one of the flower fields
Middle Hawkes Bay for mint surfing
Bottom acros the bay to Akaroa and Devauchelle

(double left click on photo to view it full screen (Dad))

The landscape is absolutely massive compared with our hills at home.

Am have left now and am waiting for my bus south to Dunedin tomorrow morning.

Guess my real travels are about to start now and i am well excited to be off, taking with me many happy memories of my month picking flowers and surfing and Christmas in the sun.

Pre and Post Christmas

At last, some photos for you.

Am proving to be rubbish at all this computer stuff. Spent ages the other day writing an entry and it has completely disappeared, guess i must have forgotten to save it.

Christmas was excellent, huge meal, roast turkey lamb etc on christmas eve, freeing up Christmas day itself for the beach, surfing and boat trip after a great breafast outside. had great fun surfing and out on the boat though no dolphins. Scenery along coast was magnificent.

Late nights of drinking and card games with my substitute New Zealand family here has been great fun.

Friday, December 22, 2006


whats been going on in here on my blog, it looks more exciting that what i've been up to. Who are all these anonymous comments from? Be good if they were signed off so we can see who they were from. The observation about 'The Piano' is very apt, and it has been a while since i've been up to anything majorly interesting. The village too far away from anywhere to really get out in the evenings or go into town, so we have been going quietly mad amongst the millions of flowers - leucospermums to be precise, in red (tango) orange ( harry chittock) and yellow ( high gold) - well, someone did ask!! most are off to Japan for their new year, the rest go to local florists. I did look for the Kiwi on the hills here, but aparently they are not found locally any more.
I will mention the kidnapper of my brother if (s)he reveals their true identity. Keep feeding him cheese and biscuits as he will need the extra padding for when he goes skiing in the winter but don't bother sending me his fingers, they are really cheap here and i already have several spare. Send them to the garden centre for the new puppy to play with, glad to hear all is going well back on the hill.
The surfing is coming along great - have bought a wet suit so as not to miss out when we all finish, which is now. Now just need some summer weather.
The last flowers were despatched yesterday afternoon and we are now preparing to party for the next week. On a trip into town to get supplies and stock up for christmas... vodka, brandy, christmas pudding, delicious ham......... then hopefully hit the beach or go out in the boat diving during the next few days if the weather improves. I forgot to bring the disk with my photos on, so you'll all have to wait a bit longer for illustrations. Sorry. Also running out of winter clothes as its so cold here - had the fire lit last night, coz it was needed. Thought it was supposed to be the middle of summer here. Still, it will be good when it arrives.
Still having a great time and looking forward to Christmas, and then moving on to experience something new.
Best wishes to you all.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

just like home

We are all sitting around indoors reading books and playing cards, and it's only 8.45am. The plan was to work from 8.00 so we had most of the afternoon free but it looks like Dartmouth outside. Thick cloud and rain, the mountains and sea view have all disappeared into the grey mist, its just like an english summer holiday.
Thats not the only similarity, we visited the local town, Akaroa, about 5km away. It is very beautifully set round a bay, with incredible views of the water and mountains, 2/3 of the property there are second homes or holiday lets, the vast majority of the shops are galleries or boutiques and the locals cannot afford to buy houses and there is very little employment apart from tourism jobs. We had a good walk round and a bit of a hike up into the hills to look at the view which was exhausting in the hot sun but well worth it. Have booked to swim with the dolphins in the bay next Sunday.
The gardens here have similarly planted, although quite often in a modern style to match the property they surround, many of the same plants - aparently the settlers brought loads of their favourites from home so its a real mix. Slightly warmer than home with huge geranium bushes, leucospermums and citrus bushes thriving in sheltered corners, even though it does occasionally snow here in the winter.
Yesterday we picked the first lot of flowers, half the quantity that we will be doing each day when we get going, just to get the hang of it all. Choosing longer stems, stripping the lower leaves off, stacking them on trays that are then transported down to the house where they are fumigated. We then stand round a big table and grade them into several sizes and they are stored in water until they are dispatched to market. Good communal work with plenty of chat and stories being told and explanations for those of foreign tongue. Though we are all having trouble understanding a local with a very strong accent who talks incredibly past.
Surfed again yesterday afternoon for the third time, am really getting hooked on it. having great fun.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

living in a volcano

Well, i guess i should explain. I am on the Banks Peninsula, off the coast of the south island just south of Christchurch. The whole area is the remains of an extinct volcano that has collapsed and since been eroded by the sea.
My hosts, John and Julie, and their son David live on the steep side of an inlet overlooking what was the centre of the volcano, a small pointed headland sticking out of the middle of the bay. Steep sided valleys in green, dropping down onto a large sheltered area of nearly inland water.
Got here on the the bus from Christchurch arriving an hour and a half later, we stopped on the way for several photo opportunities, the coach driver gave an amazing commentary all the way.
Dropped my bags in the hall of the house and headed straight out with David and another couple of visitors to the beach to surf and swim for the afternoon. Sea was rather cold even in borrowed wet suit, though soon warmed up in the searing sunshine. Saw seals on the rocks and one of the others saw a dolphin. Not to worry, aparently they're about in the bay all the time. Think i'm gonna like living here for a while.
There are going to be 6 or 7 extra helpers here when they all arrive, at the mement we are 5, 2 french, 1 swiss and 1 american, and all getting on well, doing a viarety of tasks in the mornings and heading off to the beach, to walk or just chill and read a book for the afternoon. We all eat together in the evenings with the family which is very welcoming and enjoyable. The big flower pick doesn't start for a week or so, so we're doing all sorts of other things.
John is hugely passionate about native flora and fauna and has bought a large swathe of valley which he is single handedly returning to native bush. Raising plants from seed and establishing them on the slopes. Also trapping introduced animals such as possoms and rats that prey on indigenous wildlife of both plant and bird variety. We have already helped with transplanting seedlings and clearing round young plants that have been in the ground a year or so. No photos from here, have the slowest connection in the world, but very kindly for free!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

with wings

how long was that journey? it feels like i was travelling for at least a week. Three flights and two nights later i am here in Christchurch, New Zealand, and it all looks wonderful. Emirates was really good to fly with, plenty of food and 800 channels of inflight entertainment to choose from, so i wasn't bored for a minute.
The stopover in Dubai was an experience. The largest airport terminal you could ever imagine, sat on the side of the runways looking like a giant insect pupae, shimmering in grey and blue glass. with lines of Emirates planes down both sides. Inside, it took a good 20 minutes to walk from one end to the other and was crammed with people like a huge bazzar. The three hours passed by in no time.
Sydney was quiet by comparison and only for an hour. Got off the plain, walked round the corner, through passport control, upstairs and then almost straight back onto the same plane with the same seat!
Christchurch welcomed me with sunshine and warmth, and not a hint of jetlag. Booked into a backpacker hotel for $28 (ten pounds) for the night. Spent the afternoon checking out the town and imersed myself in the plants at the botanic gardens for much longer that i thought i would. Loads of familiar plants and lots of new ones too. There will be plenty to keep me busy here for a good few days.
Strangely, after 24hours here am only just starting to feel tired at the wrong time, guess the jetlag is starting to kick in so i think i need a bit of fresh air to keep me awake, even though it is pissing down with rain.
Another epic entry...I will try and write less, although there is so much to tell you. Once i get the hang of downloading photos in internet cafes it will get more pictoral again i promise.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

the final countdown

Spent a great last few days with Mum n Dad in salisbury, trial packing, getting the last few bits and pieces and catching up with the family news.
Left on Mums Birthday, hope you had a good rest of the day. It was also great to see Windy(Peter, my little bro). He is also off to France for the winter ski season so it was a double farewell.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

moving on

Joy watching the world go by outside Greenwich Picture House and the school opposite Joys house.
tomorrow i will leave my wonderful friend Joy and continue on my journey. I have had a great time here gathering my thoughts and preparing for my trip. We have had some great laughs together, drinking red wine and smoking too much. Joy, I will miss your company and words of wisdom, the mince and potato dinners and the football, doing the chores and popping down the coop for cheap booze, using your computer for hours on end and planning my trip. Thank you so much for letting me stay in your peaceful, little home, it has been marvellous and i love you very much.

HMS Invincible

This was amazing, such a huge ship in London and i nearly forgot to post it for you to see. HMS Invincible moored in the Thames just off Greenwich. She was there for Rememberance Day. The other picture is looking downstream, with the dome of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel illuminated green.

more work and play

Have been busy working again, which is great, as i had begun to enjoy being lazy and needed a bit of a kick to get me going. The agency sent me to a new office complex that was being landscaped where i helped with planting and mulching. The weather was foul and the ground got stickier and stuck to my boots and my spade and the wheelbarrow wheel until it stopped going round, so everyone was wet and rather muddy. It was a big team, mainly of agency people from all over the world, we had a laugh and worked hard, they were all fit and in their early 20's but i kept up with them and was exhausted by the end of each day.

Julia and Paul invited me over for a wonderful meal and to meet their new son Benjamin which was great, Lyn and Paul were there too and it was so nice to see everyone again and hear their stories. I stayed on for an extra day and relieved Julia from childcare on her own, which i now realise can get a bit boring after a while. I had great fun playing with lego and going to the park with Ben and chatting with Julia about all sorts of things and putting the world to rights.

A massive "Well Done" to all at Coolings Nurseries ( i worked there for many years) who presented a cheque for £3000 to Breakthrough, a cancer charity, at a big party the other night. You should all be very proud of yourselves. It was a great event and a good opportunity to catch up with so many friends that i haven't seen for ages.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

lest we forget

need i say anything on this day of rememberance

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

bonfire weekend

Photos : Me after the wine tasting, Tower bridge at night and fireworks on Blackheath
Wow, more meeting up with folk. Lorraine suggested we meet for a drink and then go to a wine tasting event in a vintners close to where she used to work. What an excellent idea, loads of wine for free. Turned out to be an excellent opportunity to taste some amazing red wines (we were too drunk to sensibly carry on and try the whites). The hosts, including one from Oz, discussed a whole range of tasty tipples from the Hunter Valley region of Australia, using their special vintner speak of terroir (soil) and precepitation (rain) etc.. and oodles of mad descriptive words to explain good, very good, expensive and ever so expensive products whilst wondering through the assembled throng sloshing out generous tasters to all.

We staggered from there, we being Lorraine, Pete, Gin and Don good skiing buddies of several years (sorry guys you'll have to go without me this year) to a very good Vietnamese restaurant for a good chat, catch up and meal and to slowly absorb some of the alcohol.

Stayed at Lorraine and Peters comfy pad overnight and went on a tour of the locale in the morning with Pete to rid ourselves of a hangover. It was sunny and there was a wonderful park and street market and canal, we sat and watched the world go by, slowly, and drank hot chocolate and coffee, I took my camera which i carried dutifully about and didn't remember to take any photographs at all. Although later in the day the hangover cleared.

Slowly crossed London during the afternoon by bus and train, doing a bit of holiday preparation shopping on the way.

Fireworks on the heath, Blackheath to be precise, that evening, with Tania. They were as amazing as always, i took my camera and did manage to take some photographs that were a bit shaky, hopefully you can see one of them here. Lots of OOhs and AAhs from the crowds and coughing from Tania, who had a cold, so we went home early and had an early night to see off all the germs.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Another busy week!!

(picture: Jenny, Giles and Me at Windys party)
Have been doing some major catching up with folk.

Saw my sister, Wendy, her husband Rob and daughter Poppy in Sheffield, had a great meal and took Poppy to a farm where we fed a whole variety of animals, Poppy is just 2, and was a bit aprehensive of the larger beasts but had a great time. It was great to spend time with them, though not long enough.

Then on to my little bro, Peter (aka Windy) who hosted an amazing party in his house in Nottingham. Fancy dress was the order of the day. I ended up in a 'devilled egg' costume the same as Windy's which confused most of the people there. Superb venue and sounds, brilliant fun, met and caught up with loads of his mates and some of mine. Hi to all of you, trust you are all well and truly recovered by now!!!

A flying visit to Emma n Steves' and their children Lily and Sam, who are lovely, and Kerry and her new(ish) boyf Simon came to dinner. Great to hear you are all doing so well and to see you are all looking so good. Will have to give you a hand with the garden another time.

Ikea Nottingham for a quick lunch and catch up with Chris Booker, who everyone remembers for his Mutant Ninjer Turtle outfit from a party years ago. Doing great, designing flippers, masks and goggles etc for Speedo. Will look out for your products on the beaches later on.

Now, the shock of some work.... a day strimming the grass in a churchyard. Gave me plenty of time to contimplate life and beyond. Don't think i want to be buried, it takes up too much room. Mebbe a cremation, a good send off party and a scattering of ashes overlooking my favourite beach, Bantham, in south devon. Sorry if you think i'm morbid, but i just thought it needed writing down.

Next day weeding, clearing and preparing borders for planting at Kent Fire Brigade HQ in the brilliant sunshine. Lovely. Hopefully will be back next week to help with the planting.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

its all falling into place

the tickets are booked and this is the plan:

27 November 2006 London Gatwick to Christchurch New Zealand

travel and see the sights of New Zealand, splitting my time between hostels and work exchange locations where free food and lodgings are swapped for a few hours work a day.

This should allow me time to see the countryside and towns, meet other travellers and the locals and find out what life is like, be amazed by the countryside and the oceans, and wonder at all the strange and curious plants and beings of the land.

Christmas on the beach in the sunshine - i've never done that before.

I shall travel the south island first, then move northwards eventually arriving in Aukland, from where i shall depart.

28 February 2007 Aukland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia

After much discussion, decided that it would be rude not to call in and see what australia was about.

Just in time for Mardi Gras celebrations in the big city.

Must also do all those well known sites - the opera house, sydney harbour bridge, bondi beach, sydney tower etc etc etc... watch this space to see what i discover. If city life gets to be too much, still have a couple of weeks to explore a small corner of outback, or travel up the coast, its all part of the adventure.

25 March 2007 Sydney, Australia to London Gatwick.

And then home and back to work for the beginning of April.

Second blogspot attempt

This is the second attempt at a blogspot, no one else could access the first one i set up so it lies abandoned in the ethers of tinternet.

it had various flashy boxes for headings and items of interest that are not available here, so i have gathered it all together and transferred it to here.

This is what i had written on the first one:-

Entry for 16 October 2006 Day 1



i have left my home and business in dartmouth in the capable hands of Chris and Philly, to whom i am very grateful for agreeing to let me have this time off to travel and rediscover the meaning of life.

(for those that do not know me, we share a house in the countryside with a large garden with chickens and pigs and a veggie plot, and probably a dog by the time i return. And a garden centre business next door that we run with a wonderful team. i will miss you all.)

Now i am staying with a wonderful friend, Joy, who i have know for years, in her house in gravesend, and plan to be here for a couple of months. I shall go out and get myself a well paid temp job, if there is such a thing, to help fund my travels and will meet up with old friends that i have know in london and drink red wine and smoke a bit too much, because that is what Joy and i like to do when we spend time together.

And when the time is right, and i know where i am going, i shall head off in search of the kiwi.